"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Paul Robeson

This 1930 color lithograph of Paul Robeson by Mabel Dwight hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
The all-American athlete and world-renowned theater and film actor, singer, and human rights activist Paul Robeson held a commanding presence in multiple arenas. Acutely aware of injustices imposed on African Americans and other populations worldwide, Robeson condemned racism at home and abroad. McCarthyists targeted him during the early 1950s because he supported left-wing causes. Despite the revocation of his passport and the boycott of his performances, he continued his work as a singer and activist until his death in 1976. 

Robeson played the lead role in Eugene O'Neill's The Emperor Jones beginning in 1925. That year, Mabel Dwight painted him in character as Brutus Jones, a former Pullman porter who became the ruler of a West Indian island. This lithograph references that earlier work. -- NPG

 Mabel Dwight - 1930

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